Is regular cataloguing of registers being done by the Chennai Corporation?
An application was filed with the Municipal Corporation of Chennai under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get the information about the top property tax defaulters in the city.
The reply to the application, provided by the public information officer (PIO) of the revenue department of the corporation, stated that the requested information could not be provided to the applicant as its disclosure would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety of the record in question. It has been claimed that no such records are being maintained by the corporation while as per Sections 4(1)(a) Every public authority shall maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under this Act and ensure that all records that are appropriate to be computerised are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerised and connected through a network all over the country on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated; of the RTI Act, all public authorities must maintain all their records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information.
The corporation officials also said that only 60% of population pays property tax in time and around Rs. 500 crore of arrears over past few years is due to be collected, especially from commercial establishments like hotels, shopping malls and hospitals. The activists claim that the Chennai Corporation had started to upload on its website the names of tax defaulters in 2009, but the idea was later dropped which goes against the provision of mandatory disclosure under Section 4(1)(b) Every public authority shall publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,- (i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties; (ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees; (iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; (iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control; (vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof; (viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public; (ix) a directory of its officers and employees; (x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations; (xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; (xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes; (xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it; (xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form; (xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use; (xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers; (xvii) such other information as may be prescribed and thereafter update these publications every year; of the RTI Act.
All over the country there are many such corporations with numerous defaulters. Wouldn’t uploading of such data be in public interest?